Bristol University ditches words like ‘mankind’ and ‘manpower’ to be more inclusive

Bristol University has issued guidance on its website about sex and gender, discouraging the use of words such as ‘mankind’ and ‘manpower’. To avoid terms the University deems ‘unnecessarily gendered language’, staff and students are being told to drop certain terms in favour of more inclusive language.

The Russell Group university, which has historic roots in Bristol as a 146-year-old institution, has a style guide on its website to advise staff and students about ‘inclusive writing’. By ditching terms such as ‘mankind’ and ‘manpower’, and instead using synonyms that aren’t gendered, it says staff and students can avoid ‘offensive’ terminology.

Students and staff are encouraged to replace ‘mankind’ with ‘humankind’, ‘manpower’ with ‘workforce’ and to replace the use of ‘manmade’ with words such as ‘artificial’ or ‘synthetic’. More ‘gendered’ terminology is also encouraged to be replaced with other terms in the University’s sex and gender style guide.

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The University states on its website that gender is a ‘social and cultural construct’. It says: “Sex and gender are often used interchangeably, but they are two different concepts.

“Sex is defined based on biological characteristics, whereas gender is a social and cultural construct. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of self, whether they see themselves as male, female or another gender.

“Always avoid and seek to challenge offensive terminology, discrimination and stereotypes. Where appropriate, consider using gender-neutral terms, rather than those that make any sex distinction.”

More terms that could make a ‘sex distinction’ include ‘manning’ a stand, which should be replaced with ‘attending’, ‘staffing’ or ‘stationed at’, as well as addressing a group of people as ‘everyone’, ‘people’, ‘team’, ‘colleagues’ or ‘folks’ instead of ‘guys’ or ‘ladies’.

Further guidance in the style guide addresses ‘gender-specific terms’ and ‘gender-biased expressions’ that the University deems to ‘reinforce stereotypes’, such ‘man up’, ‘stop acting like a girl’ and specifying women as ‘girls’, ‘ladies’ or ‘gals’. The guidance is to instead refer to a group of women as ‘women’.

Birmingham Mail reports other Universities have taken a similar stance to banning the use of terminology that could be seen as gendered. Nottingham University is reported to be banning certain phrases – ‘the request fell on deaf ears’ or ‘blind spot’ – which ‘may associate impairments with negative things’.

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